Don't Assume A Large Tip Will Get You Better Service In A Busy Bar

One of the great things about the bar scene is just how different bars can be from each other. There's the hole-in-the-wall dive bar, the pet-friendly bar, the bumping nightclub, the swanky cocktail bar — and that's barely scratching the surface. Although all of these places are bars, the relationship between the bartender and the customer can vary quite a bit between them. Not understanding what kind of bar you're spending your night in is a quick way to make a fool of yourself, whether you meant to or not. 

Tipping, for example, is not the same from place to place. If you're in a dive bar with half a dozen other barflies, that's going to be a different interaction with the bartender than if you're crammed into the hottest bar in town with the bartender so deep into the weeds they forgot which way was up. Let's say you're doing well for yourself and you've got some extra cash handy. 

You've brought some friends or a date you want to impress and you're looking to flash some money around. If you give a $100 tip to the bartender at the dive bar who's been working there for the last 40 years, you're likely to get a big smile and will have zero problems getting their attention for the rest of the night. If you do the same thing to the busy bartender, they're more likely to look at you like you've just slapped them in the face.

What's in a tip?

A busy bartender responding to your generous tip with indifference or annoyance might seem counterintuitive. After all, bartenders are there to make money. You have the money and you're willing to give it to them for a little extra attention. To be fair, some percentage of the time you try this at the busy bar you'll get the reaction that you're looking for, which is for them to rush to your side every time you step up to the bar regardless of how long the line is.

On the other hand, it can come across as insulting. At the end of the day, from the bartender's perspective, you're just another customer among a sea of customers. When you tip a little extra for more attention, what you're essentially asking the bartender to do is reduce the tips they get from everyone else who will be annoyed with them because they're playing favorites. You better be offering a serious bag for that privilege. Otherwise, that's just bad business — and you've established yourself as the type of customer bartenders can't stand.

It may not even be purely economic. Bartenders take pride in their work. By paying for extra attention, you're implying that they aren't giving their all. Not everyone will take it like that, but there are absolutely bartenders out there who get upset about this exact behavior. If you tip well, your bartender will be grateful. If you tip well but there's a stipulation that you are now more important than everyone else in the bar, your bartender is going to feel, at the very least, conflicted.